There have been some questions, since its launch last November, about whether ChatGPT will have a positive or negative impact on education.
To understand teachers’ current attitudes toward the tool, Intelligent.com surveyed 1,000 high school, undergraduate, and graduate teachers/professors who are aware of ChatGPT.
Here are the key findings
- 95 percent of teachers are aware of ChatGPT
- 98 percent of teachers use ChatGPT
- 79 percent approve of student use
- 84 percent of teachers that approve of its use have spent time teaching their students how to use it
- 35 percent believe most or all of their students turn in assignments they used ChatGPT to complete
- 71 percent say their school doesn’t have a policy surrounding ChatGPT use
97 percent of teachers are using ChatGPT to write lesson plans
Overall, 97 percent of teachers surveyed say they are ‘frequently’ (41 percent) or ‘sometimes’ (56 percent) using ChatGPT to write lesson plans. Only 3 percent say they are never using the tool for this purpose.
Teachers are also using ChatGPT for grading and providing students with feedback (93 percent), writing emails (91 percent), and writing letters of recommendation (89 percent).
The top reason teachers use the tool is it saves them time (42%). Many say it also provides good suggestions (41 percent) and helps them understand ChatGPT’s capabilities (17 percent).
Teachers across subjects are using ChatGPT at a similar rate when it comes to writing lesson plans. However, art, English, math, and social science teachers are slightly less likely than teachers of other subjects to use the tool for grading and providing feedback.
“Despite concerns, AI tools such as ChatGPT can be useful when used with caution and intentionality,” comments Intelligent.com’s Education Advisor Blanca Villagomez.
“There’s no denying that while teaching can be a fulfilling and empowering profession, a great deal of time is used for developing lesson plans, creating assignments, reviewing homework, and much more. Using ChatGPT for lesson planning can help teachers create lesson plans faster and more efficiently. This tool can even be useful in the brainstorming session of educational content development, saving teachers time.”
8 in 10 teachers approve of student use of ChatGPT
The majority of teachers (79 percent) approve of student use of ChatGPT. More specifically, 31 percent say they ‘always approve’ and 49 percent ‘sometimes approve.’ On the flip side, 11 percent ‘rarely approve’ and 9 percent ‘never approve.’
Respondents were asked why they approve or disapprove of ChatGPT use by students. Write-in responses for those who approve include:
- “This is an era of open technology, and I certainly allow students to use tools to improve their work efficiency.”
- “ChatGPT can help students solve problems, complete tasks faster, and improve learning efficiency by quickly answering questions and providing appropriate reference materials.”
- “ChatGPT can provide a personalized learning experience according to the individual needs and interests of students, so as to better meet the learning needs of students.”
- “Diversified content allows students to study independently.”
- “It can enhance students’ ability of interdisciplinary and cross-cultural communication and cooperation, and enable students to develop themselves more comprehensively.
Write-in responses for those who disapprove include:
- “Using ChatGPT may distract students and reduce their learning effectiveness. students may rely too much on ChatGPT instead of actively thinking and researching their own problems.”
- “ChatGPT may provide inaccurate or wrong information, which may mislead students.”
- “Students may rely too much on ChatGPT and neglect other learning opportunities and resources.
- “With ChatGPT it is difficult to distinguish the learning level of students and cannot personalize teaching.
- “Students may become over-dependent, thereby reducing the ability to study independently and think independently, and failing to provide the practical and experimental opportunities students need, which are especially important for some subjects.”
Doug Goodwin, Visiting Assistant Professor in Media Studies at Scripps College, says ChatGPT can be a good thing. “I believe that institutions of higher learning must engage with these technologies to get ahead of the curve, rather than trying to keep these tools out of the classroom or to devise ways to prevent their use,” says Goodwin. “Of course I don’t advocate cheating. Rather, I have created a safe place to discuss machine learning and artificial intelligence. We talk about what it is and how it might advance the Liberal Arts and culture more generally.”
Nearly all teachers who approve of ChatGPT give assignments that require its use
Of the teachers that approve of the tool, 35 percent ‘frequently’ give assignments that require the use of ChatGPT and 62 percent ‘sometimes’ do, while only 3 percent say they never do.
Furthermore, most teachers who approve of the tool spend time teaching their students how to use it; 23 percent have spent ‘a lot’ of time teaching students how to use ChatGPT, and 62 percent have spent ‘some’ time. Only 16 percent say they haven’t spent much time teaching it, and next to zero say none at all.
Diane Gayeski, Ph.D., Professor of Strategic Communications at Ithaca College, has her students use ChatGPT. “In my Communicating with Stakeholders class, I am having my students use ChatGPT in class to develop strategic ad content for communication with the stakeholders of our class client,” Gayeski says. “I coach them to use various prompts to see which of them creates the more helpful plans and possible messaging and we will discuss how different prompts can successively improve the quality of the content and incorporate the ‘voice’ of the organization. The use of these tools is going to be an essential skill, especially for students in communications, since it may significantly reduce the burden of many of the tasks they will be assigned in their future careers, such as writing content marketing pieces, press releases, training materials and objectives, and reports.”
2 in 3 teachers say many students turn in ChatGPT-generated homework
Excluding any assignments they may have been asked to use the tool for, the majority of teachers say they believe their students are turning in work that they used ChatGPT to complete.
In fact, 6 percent say they believe all of their students turn in work generated by ChatGPT. Additionally, 30 percent believe most do and 30 percent think many do. On the other hand, 25 percent say they think only some do and 9 percent say just a few use it. Only 1 percent don’t believe any of their students are using the tool for this purpose.
Similarly, about one-third of teachers say they think all (6 percent) or most (28 percent) of their students are using the tool while in class. Additionally, 25 percent say they believe many are and 27 percent say some. The remaining say they think only a few (10 percent) or none (5 percent) use ChatGPT in class.
“I started this semester by showing students how I used ChatGPT to write the syllabus. Students told me they had used it to compose emails to professors to get the ‘right tone,’ others had used it to write code for Intro CS courses, and a few had used ChatGPT themselves to write essays—exactly as we feared,” Goodwin says.
“Why wouldn’t they? Students are under tremendous pressure to perform well in school. They feel that they are competing with one another for limited job prospects. There is also a real urgency to find ways to pay for their education after they graduate,” he continues.
“Students will use every tool available to facilitate their education. Institutions of higher learning need to find ways to use these tools effectively, and in ways that promote knowledge and provide useful strategies to navigate this world. These tools will be embedded everywhere.”
Yuvay Ferguson, associate professor of marketing in the School of Business at Howard University says her students are definitely using AI and she approves. “In the same way that peer study groups can assist with learning, I think AI is a way for students to work with ‘someone else’ on developing solutions to problems,” Ferguson says. “People don’t trust the AI responses to be perfect (yet), so students are reading and rewriting the drafts that they worked on with their study partner’. In order to edit what the AI outputs to the user, there is a level of comprehension and learning happening and that’s the ultimate goal.”
Only 24 percent say their school has a ChatGPT policy in place
The majority of teachers say their school does not have a policy when it comes to ChatGPT use. However, 24 percent say their school does, while 5 percent are unsure.
For schools that do have policies in place, some strictly prohibit its use, while others encourage it or leave decisions up to individual teachers.
Overall, 28 percent of teachers say they have a specific classroom policy for ChatGPT use. Examples of these policies include:
- “I allow students to use it to critique, generate ideas, develop questions but they cannot submit as authentic work.”
- “I recommend that every student use ChatGPT when they go home. It is important to learn about this latest AI technology.”
- “Students are encouraged to use it and are rewarded for completing assignments.”
- “Allowed use with permission.”
- “I don’t allow students to use ChatGPT to find answers in class, and they can’t use ChatGPT to finish their homework.”
Furthermore, 45 percent of teachers say they currently use AI detection tools, and 52 percent plan to start.
“ChatGPT is already transforming the educational landscape whether we are ready or not,” says Villagomez.
“Our young generation of students has embraced technology from a very early age and while we may have valid reservations and concerns, we cannot thrive in a state of fear. We live in a digital era and there’s a great benefit in staying attuned to the new ways our students are learning and staying engaged. This type of technology isn’t going anywhere.
“Eliminating the use of AI tools or imposing the belief that such tools are harmful will only negatively impact student learning. I recommend educators embrace the positive aspects of this tool and engage with their students in open conversations to understand their motivations for using ChatGPT. Teachers and other educators alike can begin tapping into their creativity and explore different types of tools that can help promote their engagement and learning.”
Data found within this report derives from a survey commissioned by Intelligent.com and conducted online by survey platform Pollfish on March 30, 2023 to April 4, 2023. In total, 1,000 U.S. high school teachers as well as undergraduate and graduate professors were surveyed, using a convenience sampling method. Only educators who say they are aware of ChatGPT were surveyed. Those who say they are unaware were eliminated (incidence rate = 95 percent were previously aware).